Breathe In, Breathe Out... PUSH

Just got our computer tuned up and I'm breathing easier as it is running a lot smoother!

I've refrained from writing on this blog about my decision to have a HOME BIRTH!  I know that partly it has been because I didn't want nay-sayers shaking my resolve.  However, as this birth looms closer on the horizon, my confidence in my decision and myself continues to grow.  I am actually getting EXCITED about this birth!  Just today, I began imagining two little girls running and giggling through the house, how can I not be excited about that?  So, I'm ready to share a few thoughts with you about how we came to this decision. 

Please let me start by saying that each woman needs to make her own choices about birth and though my decisions are best for me, I understand that they may not be best for you.  If you are pregnant or may become pregnant in the future, please educate yourself.  The best book I've found is Ina May Gaskins, Guide to Natural Childbirth.  It's delightful, inspiring, educational and non-judgemental!

Two years ago, in my prenatal yoga class, there were a few women who had or planned to have home births.  "OMG, what hippies!", I thought as I politely smiled and told them how awesome my Doctor was.  I couldn't PHATHOM laboring in my own home and having to look at all my "to dos" (who wants to feel guilty about cobwebs when they're pushing a watermelon out of a bottle cap?).  I couldn't imagine willingly making a nasty mess on my bed!  I certainly did not see the draw.

Then I had a successful, albeit scarily early, natural birth.  After that birth, I wasn't sure I wanted to commit to another natural birth.  However, I learned that for me, the labor was manageable as long as I was free to move.  The few times I had to get on the bed for exams/monitoring... YOWSERS!  And it was in that position that I pushed.  Now I think I pushed too fast, too soon.  At the time, I was in so much agony, that I pushed with all my might regardless of when I was contracting 'cause I knew that was the only way to end the pain.

Upon moving back to PA, I learned that my choices were limited.  Only OBs can deliver babies in our area hospitals (as opposed to the family practitioner I had in Oregon).  That wouldn't be so bad if I could find an OB I connected with, but WAIT... you get whichever OB is on-duty!?!  My fear of this birth continued to build:  we've had a bad experience with the local hospital (no we do not want to talk about it... and no... Jake no longer works there; I've yet to meet a woman who had a natural birth at the hospital; I've yet to talk with a woman who had a successful start to breastfeeding after birthing at the hospital; their c-section rate is scary;... and today when I took the tour ('cause I might end up there if there's an emergency), I learned that once your water breaks, you have to stay in bed!  Uh, my water broke before my contractions started last time!

I have read a lot about birth and am aware that many of the current local practices are out-of-date, insurance-minded, and counter productive!  In addition to that knowledge, I am uncomfortable in that corporate hospital and am uncomfortable with the idea of not having bonded with my Doctor.  That alone will greatly impact my labor and birth.  It is proven that when a woman is uncomfortable during her labor, labor will slow or even STOP!  Because of that, Jake and I made a very detailed birth plan for our first birth and asked everyone who was allowed in the room (the bare minimum of staff) to read it (they did!).

So, after reading another great book on natural childbirth (Birth Unhindered by Tara McGuire...who happens to have been my prenatal yoga teacher), I said to my husband "I think a home birth might be right for us this time".  He was immediately on board!  I was shocked... and he wasn't!  So, I found me a midwife (google found her for me) and arranged a visit.

Let me tell you how AWESOME this has been!  First of all, she comes to MY HOUSE!  I did have a few appointments at the preggo clinic and it was so difficult with Hazel in tow!  Second, she spends an hour or MORE with me each time!  That sure does beat the 5 minutes I saw the OB (they even give you a paper explaining that your time with the Dr. will be short... like that makes it more acceptable).  She has a 3% rate of transferring to the hospital and is upfront about when and why that would happen (I double dog DARE you to find a Dr. with a 3% C-section/forceps/episiotomy rate).  She has trained in health clinics in 3rd world countries and has experienced things that western Drs just don't ever see.  She arrives with a mini hospital in tow and can perform many life saving things (technical term) on both the mama and the baby.

As for my initial qualms about a home birth... well, I really like my house and find it peaceful; my ceilings are all cathedral and so the cobwebs are way up and out of sight; my midwife will be bringing lots of those blue pads and will do all the clean-up; she has instructed me to make my bed, put a cheap shower curtain on top and cover that with another set of sheets... so it'd be a quick process from birth to tucking myself into bed (big comfy bed with no rubber pillows!); and best of all... she is bringing a tub for me to labor in and if I choose, deliver in (no mess on my bed!).

It's getting late and this is a long enough post.  I'll be revisiting this topic again as Baby #2 prepares her arrival :)


Country Road

On Friday, hubs and I enjoyed a rambling country drive and headed down to Berkeley Springs, WV.  We're on our "babymoon" (why is that word so DORKY?) and we're lovin' live and each other.  This is the perfect destination for a weekend away.  Berkeley Springs is a cute town with cute shops and delicious foods. 

We arrived in town in the late afternoon and I went straight to the Bath House for my massage.  Ahhh... bliss.  Then we headed to Tari's for an amazing 4 course dinner.  A very windy walk around town and off to bed (above Tari's).  We found the most amazing deal:  $180 for 2 nights in their "non ritzy" rooms which includes a 4 course dinner for 2 and a 3 course lunch for 2.  We've eaten very very well.  Gourmet foods, 4 total desserts, 4 take home boxes currently sitting on our bed making up for late lunch/ no dinner plan for the day.  If we had paid for our meals, we would have spent over $130 on our meals alone.  Yes, the room is lacking in charm, but it's clean and to campers, it's luxurious!  Even better, we're smack in the middle of the tourist section!  It's so great to run up to our own bathroom between stores (who's the preggo?).

FINALLY, the much requested... BELLY PICS :)  Don't look too closely, these were taken right after our steamy bath.  Top left corner is a White Oak standing strong against the forest.  Bottom middle was taken at a scenic overlook near-by:  the Potomac River, MD (left of river), WV (right of river), PA (distant ridges) and if I had taken a panoramic pic, VA too!

 We spent today walking the 3 touristy blocks, browsing through fun, artsy stores, napping, eating/ gorging, soaking in the hot springs (private tub for two... clothing optional!), enjoying the $4 movie theater (2 doors down), discussing baby names, dreaming about future plans for our home/land/farm...  Yes, a wonderful weekend indeed.

HOWEVER, it's night #2 and I'm getting antsy to get back to this:

DANCE PARTY (this past Thursday night).  Hazel got a "Dora" book with fake MP3 player for Valentine's Day.  She LOVES the theme song and breaks out in dance every time.  I'm not sure where she learned her sweet moves, but as you can see... she totally rocks out!

Yeah, I've enjoyed my time away to just be with Jake... but I can't WAIT to bury my face in these curls...
and cover this babe in hugs and kisses. 


love is...

(this post is written in Hazel's point of view)

Love is... giving your best friend a kiss.

Love is... surprising Dada at work with an upcycled gift box full of chocolates.
Love is... getting a nice squeeze from your best friend.
Love is... hanging out at the tutoring center and getting more smooches.
Love is... making Valentine's Day cards for your favorite people.
Love is... stealing the card that you gave to your best friend, finding some quiet space, and eating her pretzel stick.  (and having a mama who prepared for this and had extra)
Love is... attending your first Valentine's Day party... even if you need a nap and spend most of the party crying.

Love is... having a Mama and Dada who love you unconditionally forever and always.

*Love is... writing this blog while Hazel and her Dada snuggle on the couch listening to a book of bird calls!   Ooo... new word "cuckoo"... followed by "wow".  Love is THIS MOMENT!

*Thanks to Lizzythebotanist who lovingly sends me emails everytime she stumbles upon cute owl crafts!  This adorable Valentine was made by one of her bloggy friends and can be printed for FREE from this blog.  I might just use it every year... until Hazel asserts her own opinions.


post Valentine... going postal

Today's project was going to be to blog about my love for Hazel.  She pulled out all the stops yesterday and I even snapped a few photos.  However, she's spent the morning begging for more candy (no), ripping my checkbook out of it's holder (NO), climbing chairs to access my purse and pulling out all my credit cards and kleenexes (NO!), pulling the nighlight out of the socket (NO!), climbing on mama's lap and pulling mama's hair (NO!).  And so that's where we're at this morning.  Not feeling too lovey towards each other. 

Wait.... her crying, rolling on the ground, whimpering just stopped!  Oh, it was just a juice break, she's back at it. 

Perhaps I'll post my lovey thoughts on my sometimes sweet Valentine later in the day?


Video killed...

...the radio star... and my optimism.

It's not currently in the DSM-IV (the mental health diagnosis mega-text), but it should be. 

YEARS ago, when we were both students, I splurged and bought hubby a nice digital video camera so that we could record our life.  We go through spurts of using it, collecting miniature tapes.  Never have we ever uploaded these snippets onto our computer.  I have no idea how many hours of Hazel video we've created, but a substantial amount.

The PROBLEM is, I cannot use the video camera without imagining the death of one of the "actors".  As in, something tragic happens, I die, and my baby is left with a few snippets of annoying mama narrator with which to piece together what kind of mama I was.  It's morbid and depressing and makes me not want to video! 

This week I'm hoping to video our new game in which I say "WOW" and she echoes.  We vary the pitch, loudness, length, etc.  Her little voice is SO sweet!  However, in a way, I hate the idea of capturing this moment... I don't want to freeze her in time... I want her to change and grow old, along WITH me!

This morning on our CNN homepage, the first thing I see is a video with the title "Last steps before protester's death".  Was I tempted to watch, yup.  Did I?  NO!  I'm lucky enough not to have been there in real life, why watch such a morbid thing? 

In summary, video is awesome.  Someday, Hazel and I will enjoy watching her baby moments TOGETHER (this is me talking to God and telling him what's what).  However, I need to rid myself of such a morbid thought process with that darn camera!



Today the love of my life (aww) turned 33.  If you think of this age in terms of this is the age Jesus Christ was when he died, it's a bit humbling.  I mean, Jake's only performed two miracles (our baby girls).  However, he's done more things in his 33 years than the average Joe, so I'm gonna continue to adore him.

In honor of his big day, my parents grilled some filet mignon... oh wow... and bought a case of Rolling Rock.  Know why?  (The #33 is on the bottles.  Many theories on why, but today we're going with the theory that it's in honor of the year the Steelers were formed.).

no, she didn't drink any beer!

Speaking of Steelers, we're not a traditional sport family.  I'm watching the game, but obviously I'm not fully concentrating.  Jake watched a few minutes, ate the yummy snacks and then headed out to the wood shop to build our futon couch (yay!).  Hazel watched the whole first half and even waved the terrible towel!  Then, I dumped her into bed without so much as a song so that I didn't miss any of the 1/2 time show (my favorite part!).
at least we look like good fans ;)


Nesting (take 2)

Ok, parents, grandparents, observant people... HELP!

Last night I was reading the 3rd trimester chapter in one of my pregnancy books and I about fell out of bed when I read "Enjoy the last few weeks of your pregnancy".  WHAT?  When did that happen?  Now, I have 77 days left, that's what the ticker at the top of this blog says.  That's 10 weeks (phew, easy math!) ... (correction:  11 weeks.  OH MY- I NEED HELP!) RELIEF.  But WAIT...heart beat increasing... rapidly racing... what if #2 follows suit and arrives 5 weeks early?  OH MY GOODNESS!  Where did my pregnancy go?  Did I sign up for this?  Am I SANE?

Ok, seriously.  I've done NOTHING to prepare for this peanut.  WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE FOR #2?  I didn't let my sister throw me a baby shower, 'cause I have lots of itty bitty girly stuff.  Can I simply pull out my rubbermaid of newborn clothes, set-up the bassinet pack-n-play, buy a pack of newborn disposables and call it a day? 

And as for nesting, oh my.  Husband has been rubbing elbows with farmers for the past few days at a conference and he might not want to come home.  I'm BURSTING with inexpensive ideas of things that need to be done NOW!  I spent quite awhile googling "how to paint kitchen cabinets" last night (this is your fault Starr Family Blog!).  I won't go into details until it's done because there are 2 fathers in my life who are very anti-painting wood.  But I have outdated cabinets and I'M NESTING!

So really, what do you do the 2nd time around?  Should I buy a few new things for the babe?  Should I have a gift registry somewhere?  Should I ... ?


Biggest work perk... SNOW DAYS!

We're on day TWO of SNOW DAYS!  Fortunately for me, I don't have to make-up these snow days like everyone else (since my gig is up at the end of the month), and I only lose about $40 of pay (I was to work 1/2 days and give a fairly large chunk of my earnings to my deserving babysitter).  So, these snow days are ALL FUN, no regrets in this house!  Well, except for the fact that I have FIVE Chinese immigrants in my tutoring center and had planned a rockin' Chinese New Year Party for today.  But I'm sure they won't mind celebrating next week!

Yesterday, I started what is to be our SNOW DAY TRADITION:  chocolate chip pancakes topped with peanut butter.  My dad swears this will only appeal to me when I'm pregnant, I think he's wrong.  However, when I deemed it a new tradition, I wasn't expecting 2 snow days in a row... So, I might have to let Hazel down gently today.  I KNOW... I'll explain to her that today is a freezing rain day, so not a snow day at all!

Yesterday I enjoyed an hour nap in the middle of the afternoon.  Low and behold, I was still FUNCTIONAL AND PLEASANT at 7:00.  I even scrubbed the bathroom floor.  Hubby about fell over when he saw me being functional, PRODUCTIVE, and pleasant so late in the day.  It felt SO good!  It's hard to take a nap when Hazel does because I lay there thinking of all the chores that I could do during that time (since I can work about 5x's faster without my adorable assistant).  Hard though it may be, I have a feeling I'll be able to force myself to nap again this afternoon!

Two great events of yesterdays snow day were that my midwife was able to visit ME (I love having all my prenatal appointments in MY house... never spend time driving or waiting!) during the day instead of in the evenings and then, with my free evening, I got to enjoy a family dinner in honor of my grandparents (oh how I LOVE to eat at restaurants!).

Other highlights of SNOW DAYS:  prefolds with wool pants are so super EASY, CHEAP, and WEATHER APPROPRIATE; I haven't pre-planned my time, so I'm free to play peek-a-boo, read, tickle, and chase all day; Hazel and I can spend a little time with my grandparents on their birthdays (yesterday my Gpa turned 90 and today my Gma turns 85); the disaster area we call a house is getting tidy... bit by bit... low expectations here; and my daughter and I are off the roads!

Now, does anyone have any SUPER EASY ideas about how to make a tu-tu?  I bought the fabric a few weeks ago and am feeling inspired today :)  (Ahem, in answer to Shane's question, the tu-tu is for Hazel!  Seems like she would enjoy one and she even says the word when we get to the tu-tu page in one of her picture books.  Eyes would fall out of sockets if this preggo pranced around in a tu-tu!)